Monday, 9 December 2013

Remember me?

I used to do that running thing and then I’d write about it and some people would laugh a bit and others would say nice things and a few would get annoyed and faintly aggressive. It was fun, remember?

I don’t really remember. Weird.

I was at a Christmas party on Saturday with some friends whom I only see every few months. Someone said ‘no-one actually likes running, except for Dave of course!’. Everyone turned to me, expecting the usual slightly apologetic shrug and some anecdote about how I ran to Belgium and back this morning. Actually I just shrugged and said ‘to be honest I don’t think I like it at the moment either’.

Let me take you back to June 22nd and 23rd. I ran The Wall Run with three heroic human beings, and I was a fairly calamitous disaster despite having done – by some distance – the most training out of the four of us. I was sick and broken and sick and tired and battered and slow, but above all I was sick. My only redeeming feature was that I didn’t give up, and even that was only because of the immense stubbornness of Kommissar Gray.

The Crew Chief was not impressed, to put it lightly. I naively expected some sort of wide-eyed admiration at my superhuman feat of endurance. Instead she saw that I had put myself through needless, pointless suffering and that I repeatedly refused to acknowledge that I had made a foolish decision in carrying on with no food in my stomach, exhaustion, nausea, some mild hallucination and an almost manic obsession with Matt Monro. When the race was over she used her serious voice to make it clear that I would not be doing anything so stupid ever again.

Last time I was a runner
 I took two weeks off running altogether to recover. Two turned into three. In the fourth week I went for one run. I deferred my GNR place and cancelled other racing plans. The local running shops reported their worst quarters ever as I stopped buying shoes and gear every ten minutes. I started using the next notch on my belts and resenting my monthly direct debit to the gym. It is now nearly 6 months later, and I have run less than 100 miles in total since the finish line in Gateshead, compared to nearly 700 for the first half of the year.

I may have taken the Crew Chief’s reprimands too seriously.

I am further out of a training routine than I ever have been since I took up the sport in autumn 2008, when George W. Bush was still President of the USA. We were learning the term ‘Credit Crunch’ and expecting it all to blow over in a year or so. I was 21 years old and had never run more than a couple of miles.

Until recently I theorised that my lack of motivation stems from a nagging idea that, by completing an ultramarathon, I had also completed my running journey. Perhaps I subconsciously think there is little left to pursue – perhaps lowering PBs and running ever greater distances are just a pair of arduous and endless, pointless goals.

Last night all that changed. The Crew Chief suggested that her project for 2014 (following the baking challenge of 2013) is to ‘get fit’, and could we do it together, maybe go for little runs together?

And just like that, I’m back at the beginning. But this time I’ve got company.

Happy running.


2013 to date: miles run: 739.55, races: 5 and a bit, parkruns: 3, miles biked: 55, metres swum: 1850